Getting Over It: finding stillness in chaos
Author: Luc Lloyd
In October of 2017, I was queuing to see the movie IT with my closest friend. It was a pretty normal day, and I only remember it because of one thing that he said to me.
“Have you ever heard of a game called Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy?”
If you’re not familiar with Getting Over it, it’s a game where you have to climb up a mountain with a yosemite hammer. You’re a bald guy called Diogenes in a pot. All this happens while the titular game designer Bennett Foddy ruminates through a background monologue on the nature of our culture. It’s weird, but bear with me.
A lot of the time when we talk about emotions and games, we always think about the stories we’ve poured our time into. The things that make you feel something and tug at our heartstrings. You can’t have experiences like that every day. Something we should think about more, is this on a smaller scale. The day to day experiences of playing video games to process emotions. Games have the capability to calm us, as much as they do to frustrate us, and make us cry. They can be meditative, and soothing. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people experiencing this with Breath of the Wild. It’s a combination of the ambient noise, and the breathtaking landscape. What makes a game meditative, for the most part, is our connection to it. How we, as an individual, feel when we play it.
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy was that game for me. I don’t know why, but after my friend told me about it, it excited me. I wishlisted the game, and bought it the minute it came out. I only completed the game two years later, 50 hours in. A large part of that first 50 hours felt like smashing my head into a brick wall.
I’m not very good at video games, and if you asked me why I kept going, I couldn’t tell you. It’s ridiculous to think that I did keep going. I’m glad I did. Because now, it’s what I’ll do when I’m feeling particularly depressed. I’ll boot it up and start climbing up the mountain again. It’s calming, the smooth jazz music, and the familiarity of the mountain. It never changes, and that’s reassuring.
Talking about how it’s the game I go to for meditation might strike you as bizarre. By all accounts Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy is a rage game. You can make one mistake, fall down the mountain and have to start from the bottom all over again. Type it into youtube, and you’ll see all sorts of clickbait-y thumbnails with yelling faces. But I never felt like that about it.
One of the reasons I like it so much, and the reason I never gave up on it, is because of the narration itself. Bennett Foddy gives inspirational quotes every time you fall, and this rubs a lot of people the wrong way. The advice and other random spurts of information you get aren’t condescending. Because people get frustrated, they feel like it is. When you take what he’s saying as earnest, the game becomes far more tolerable. Sometimes it’s important for you to ask for advice, and to get help when you fall. It’s difficult to ask for that help, and it can feel like people are being rude to you. It’s because they don’t have the same context that you do. We instinctively shut out others, because we’re afraid of bothering them. So we try our best to scare them away.
You can probably tell where this is going. Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy feels like an allegory for depression. A huge, chaotic mountain of trash: obtuse and difficult to climb. Any slight setback can send you spiraling all the way to step one. Then, it feels like you’ve lost everything.
Sometimes you fall to the foot of the mountain, both in the game, and in regards to depression. And when you do, you feel like you’ve lost all that progress. You’re back at step one, and it’s all undone. But that’s not quite true. Because there is one thing you keep, and that’s your experiences. You climb the mountain again, and it’s a little easier this time. And you might fall, or you might not. But what’s important is, you tried. And you learned. And you’re going to do better next time.
While writing this article, I finished my 50th run of Getting Over it. It honestly felt kind of poetic. And while I’ve not made the same type of strides in dealing with my depression, I will eventually.
Despite me talking about Getting Over it, everyone has their own game they’re attached to. Think of what you play that relaxes you. Something you can play, and ruminate, and think. Something that calms you. It doesn’t matter what other people think about it. In the whirlwind that life can be sometimes, it’s important to have an eye of the storm.
It’s not in our nature to wallow in our emotions forever. Humans strive for self-improvement. Things do get easier, but you have to try every day. You will reach the summit of your own mountain. And you’ll soar.